This section is from the book "Materia Medica And Therapeutics Inorganic Substances", by Charles D. F. Phillips. Also available from Amazon: Materia medica and therapeutics.
In conjunction with other baths should be considered the Turkish, or Anglo-Turkish bath, in which dry air at a temperature of from 100° to 160° F., or more, is employed, the patient passing through graduated chambers during 20 to 40 minutes; when free perspiration has occurred, and lasted for some time, shampooing is commenced, and afterward the body is washed with copious lathers of soap and streams of water, warm, tepid, and finally cold. The effect of the warm applications and frictions is to stimulate both the general and cutaneous circulation, to relax the muscular tissue, relieve pain and congestion, to cleanse the openings of the skin-glands, and to eliminate through them morbid material and retained excretion. That the skin excretes urea has been proved by finding it in the perspiration of healthy persons (Landerer, Funke, Leube, etc.); but still more constantly in cases of scarlatina, nephritis, cholera, collapse, and chronic Bright's disease (Scottin, G. O. Rees, Fiedler, etc.). In such cases the urea may even form a crystalline powder on the skin, especially near the sweat-glands (H. Wood). Moreover, in diabetes the perspiration contains sugar; in rheumatism, lactic acid; in gout, uric acid; and in jaundice, biliary products. This being so, it is evident that the promotion of very free secretion from the skin-glands by the varied processes of the Turkish bath is a most efficient means of depurating the blood. The effect of the final cold douche or plunge is to contract muscular tissue both in the skin and deeper parts, and to stimulate and brace up the nervous system; hence this form of bath combines the good effects of both hot and cold applications. It should induce an agreeable sense of vigor and elasticity, and render the skin less sensitive to changes of temperature.
It does not, however, always succeed well; in some subjects, especially at first, sweating is not favorably induced, and they suffer from heat, malaise, and headache; the use of a wet towel with friction should then be tried, or gentle douching with warm water on first entering the bath; drinking cold water is also recommended for increasing the skin secretion, and often succeeds, but in my experience it has sometimes caused nausea and gastric pain.
Persons vary in their power of resisting heat, and although there are really few who cannot go through a Turkish bath with safety, there are many who suffer at first with some degree of oppression, faintness, and exhaustion. Hence, the first bath should be taken cautiously, not prolonging unduly the time in the hot chamber - say not beyond 20 to 30 minutes (the sensations will practically guide as to time), and finishing with the cold or nearly cold douche for a few seconds only, not with the plunge bath. It is a mistake to go over-fatigued into the Turkish bath, or within three or four hours after a good meal; or to dress too hurriedly, and go with still-perspiring skin into the open air.
Contra-indications to this form of bath are to be found in extreme debility from any cause, and in some conditions of pulmonary congestion or tendency thereto: chronic heart disease per se does not necessarily negative the bath, but requires extra precaution.